Have You Considered Exploring a UX Design Career?

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Did you know that UX designers are one of the most in-demand talents in technology today? With 87% of hiring managers saying that acquiring UX designers is a top priority. Even top job sites like Indeed and Glassdoor have ranked UX design as the fifth most in-demand role in tech. 

But is a UX design career the right fit for you? To find out, keep reading. 

WHAT IS UX DESIGN? 

The origin of user experience (UX) was first defined by Don Norman, Co-Founder of the Nielson Norman Group, in the 1990s. According to Norman, “user experience encompasses all aspects of the end-users interaction with the company, its services, and its products.” 

UX is applied to both physical and digital products and services, and it has become a central component of establishing an effective and seamless customer journey. According to Adobe, customers interacting with a digital product, for example, a mobile app, tend to evaluate their experiences according to the following criteria: 

  • Value: Does this product give me value? 
  • Function: Does this product work? 
  • Usability: Is it easy to use? 
  • General impression: Is it pleasant to use? 

As a UX designer, it’s your responsibility to create experiences based on the needs of the customer and “keeping the customer or end-user in mind, with everything that you do. Remember you are designing for the customer and not for yourself,” explains Kelly Smith, GA Alumni, now a UX Designer at PayPal. 

DAY IN THE LIFE OF A UX DESIGNER.

No two days are the same. but as a UX Designer at PayPal, We chatted with Kelly Smith, about what her typical day-to-day looks like. 

  • To kick off the day, UX designers usually attend meetings to consult with clients to understand their project goals, and meetings with the engineering or UI teams to check on the project status. Collaboration is essential, and it is something you will be doing daily, regardless of what project you are working on. 

“I work a lot with a bunch of different teams, so that’s also key about UX. For example, I work closely with the web development team to make sure what they’re coding and implementing is what I have designed”, explains Kelly. 

  • Depending on the company’s size, you might also be conducting a significant amount of customer research, product testing, and usability testing. For example, at PayPal, UX designers have a dedicated UX research team. 

“Our UX research team tests and verifies the designs that I create, to see if there are any pain points that customers have,” explains Kelly. It’s then the responsibility of the UX designer to apply customer feedback to their design. 

  • As part of the product design process, UX designers need to attend partner and various stakeholder meetings to define the customer and business goals. 

“Right now, I’m spending probably around 25% of time attending partner and stakeholder meetings, and the remaining 75% of my day I’m designing”, says Kelly. 

  • Depending on the size of your team, you might also be assisting with content development, such as graphic design and writing copy. 

WHAT SHOULD YOU ASK YOURSELF TO FIGURE OUT IF UX DESIGN IS RIGHT FOR YOU? 

Like anything new, we try to convince ourselves that it’s the right choice. However, it’s essential to take a step back and re-evaluate. Here are five questions you should be asking yourself to determine if UX design is the right career choice.

Q1. Are you curious and empathetic by nature? 

As a UX designer, you will be designing experiences and products that you’re not necessarily the end-user. Thus, you need to think about and understand the customer’s needs and wants and put yourself in their shoes. If you’re an empathetic person who is interested in human psychology, UX design might be right for you

Q2. Are you able to work well with others? 

As we mentioned earlier, collaboration is a critical component of a UX designer’s daily life. So you need to be able to collaborate closely with teams from various backgrounds and experience levels, such as the UX research and the UX accessibility teams, and collaborate with multiple stakeholders. 

Q3. Are you open to feedback and problem-solving? 

Taking on feedback in a professional setting can be challenging for many people. However, if you’re a person who views it as constructive advice to help make your work better, you’re on the right career path. Taking a step back and studying the feedback more in-depth and critically thinking about how you can problem-solve is what defines a great UX designer. 

Q4. Are you passionate about the industry? 

Being passionate about your job is essential; however, it’s just your job, and it shouldn’t consume your entire life. However, being able to remain curious about what’s happening in the industry is a good sign that you are passionate about your work. 

Q5. Do you enjoy storytelling? 

Storytelling is an important attribute to bring forward to UX design. As a UX designer, you need to be able to paint a picture of the end-user and their needs and tell a story about their journey to help sell your design to stakeholders and key business partners. 

UX DESIGN CAREER PATHWAY. 

During our User Experience Design Immersive you get to actively work with a career coach on your rèsume, portfolio, and interview skills. Post-graduation, you can continue to work with your career coach until you get hired. Although it can take some time to land your dream job, here are some common beginner roles our GA graduates land: 

  1. UX DESIGNER

Job Role: As a UX designer, your key responsibilities are centered around enhancing end-user satisfaction by improving the usability, accessibility, and enjoyment associated with a product. Other tasks include consulting with clients and stakeholders to understand their goals, user research, conducting usability testing, creating wireframes, storyboards, sitemaps, screen flows, and creating product prototypes. 

Skills Required: Figma, InVision, Adobe Photoshop, Sketch, UserTesting, Axure, Visual Communication, Collaboration, Presentation. 

Average salaries: (according to Glassdoor)

  • USA: Ranges from $78,000 to $145,000 per year. 
  • UK: Ranges from £38,000 to £63,000 per year.
  • Canada: Ranges from C$52,000 to C$113,000 per year. 
  • Singapore: SG$70,000 per year. 
  • Australia: Ranges from AUS$87,000 to AUS$110,000 per year. 
  1. UX WRITER

Job Role: As a UX writer, you are responsible for creating the copy required throughout the interface of digital products such as websites and mobile apps. UX writing aims to help guide the user through the product’s interface in an intuitive manner. As a UX writer, you can be asked to create copy for product pages, emails, CTA buttons, and push notifications. 

Skills Required: Communication, Collaboration, Writing, Research, Jira, Figma. 

Average salaries: (according to Glassdoor)

  • USA: Ranges from $67,000 to $130,000 per year. 
  • UK: Ranges from £28,000 to £82,000 per year.
  • Canada: Ranges from C$52,000 to C$113,000 per year. 
  • Singapore: SG$60,000 per year. 
  • Australia: Ranges from AUS$55,000 to AUS$88,000 per year. 
  1. UX RESEARCHER

Job Role: The demand for UX researchers is rising. As companies adopt a more digital approach, they need people who can uncover user behaviors, needs, and motivations to create a personalized product offering. Daily, you will conduct in-depth research to provide actionable insights to various stakeholders. In addition, as a UX researcher, you will collaborate with the development, design, and marketing teams to improve product definition and drive business goals. 

Skills Required: Communication, Collaboration, Research (background in human behavior studies or cognitive science an advantage). 

Average salaries: (according to Glassdoor)

  • USA: Ranges from $114,000 to $180,000 per year. 
  • UK: Ranges from £31,000 to £102,000 per year.
  • Canada: Ranges from C$51,000 to C$108,000 per year. 
  • Singapore: Ranges from SG$42,000 to SG$127,000 per year. 
  • Australia: Ranges from AUS$59,000 to AUS$142,000 per year. 
  1. PRODUCT DESIGNER

Job Role: The lines between a UX designer and product designer tend to get a little blurred. However, essentially the role of a product designer is to design a product using their knowledge of color, typography, detail, and other design elements. Product designers can also conduct A/B testing, email surveys, and build wireframes, prototypes, and customer journey maps. 

Skills Required: Graphic Design, UX Design (basic level), Research, Analytics, Statistics, Behavioural Pattern Recognition, Communication, Presentation. 

Average salaries: (according to Glassdoor)

  • USA: Ranges from $61,000 to $155,000 per year. 
  • UK: Ranges from £27,000 to £69,000 per year.
  • Canada: Ranges from C$57,000 to C$105,000 per year. 
  • Singapore: Ranges from SG$2,400 to SG$9,600 per month. 
  • Australia: Ranges from AUS$65,000 to AUS$140,000 per year. 
  1. BRAND STRATEGIST

Job Role: A brand strategist develops a holistic brand experience and image based on extensive research, experience, industry, and client knowledge. Daily, brand strategists closely collaborate with the creative teams to depict the brand image. Additionally, brand strategists have to be able to discover actionable insights to formulate and forecast strategies to achieve company goals. 

Skills Required: Business, Marketing, Branding, Communication, Analytical Thinking, Problem-Solving, Creativity, Research, Strategic Thinking, Presentation, Statistics, Analytics. Microsoft Excel, Tableau (basic level).  

Average salaries: (according to Glassdoor)

  • USA: Ranges from $69,000 to $183,000 per year. 
  • UK: Ranges from £36,000 to £85,000 per year.
  • Canada: Ranges from C$49,000 to C$123,000 per year. 
  • Singapore: Ranges from SG$1,800 to SG$2,800 per month. 
  • Australia: Ranges from AUS$40,000 to AUS$140,000 per year. 

CAREER CHANGERS: HOW YOU CAN TRANSITION TO UX DESIGN AND START YOUR CAREER TODAY.

Changing careers doesn’t have to be hard. You just need a plan. To help you hit the ground running and get you one step closer to your dream UX job, take a look at our five-step action plan.

Step #1: Don’t disregard your previous job and career.

Many of us consider leaving our old careers in the dust when transitioning to a new job. However, you can utilize most of the skills you acquired in your previous job in your new career. 

“My past career has helped me to transition to UX design. So if you’re considering a career in UX design, chances are there are a lot of transferable skills that can help you with that process”, says Kelly. 

Previously to becoming a UX designer at PayPal, Kelly worked in marketing. “I majored in advertising, my job involved finding creative ways to solve business problems, but I wanted to learn more hard skills and decided to start coding. This is how I discovered the UX design immersive at General Assembly”, explains Kelly. 

Step #2: Step up your skills with a UX design bootcamp. 

Bootcamps have become widely popular, especially for career changers, due to their reduced commitment period (as opposed to a four-year university degree), affordability, and one-to-one career guidance. According to the 2021 State of the Bootcamp Market Report, 44,254 people graduated from bootcamps, a 30.32% increase from 2019 due to the shift to online learning. Our 12-week UX design immersive features expert instruction, one-on-one career coaching, and connections to top employers to get you hired. 

Although you can utilize soft transferable skills like communication, presentation, and collaboration in UX design, it’s still critical to learn the necessary hard skills required to succeed in this career. Here are the top five tech tools you need to know how to use to become a UX designer in 2022: 

  • Figma
  • Sketch
  • Adobe Photoshop and Illustrator
  • Axure
  • InVision
  • UXPin

Step #3: Start your rèsume and portfolio prep early. 

Portfolios are a crucial component to building your personal brand and grabbing the attention of recruiters and employers. For a UX design portfolio, we recommend some of the following tips: 

  • Your portfolio doesn’t have to be a website it can be a simple pdf you link on your rèsume.
  • Ideally, you want your portfolio to be a collection of three to five case studies that show the problem you were trying to solve and how you solved it.
  • If you collaborate with others on a project, you need to clearly show your contribution, critical thinking processes, and ideation. 
  • Employers also like to see your sketches, prototypes, wireframes, and a breakdown of any end-user research you conducted to design your product with each UX design. 
  • Make sure you summarize and highlight key findings. Employers will only skim through your portfolio and ask you to expand things in greater detail during the interview. 
  • Try to make the overall design of your portfolio cohesive with your rèsume. 

As soon as you start your UX bootcamp, you begin working on your rèsume, which is the building block to your portfolio prep. “Every week, you work on your rèsume, and then towards the end of the bootcamp, you’ll start developing your portfolio, which is awesome and another big thing that drew me to GA. I even continued to work with my mentor after the bootcamp was over, and until I got my first job”, explained Kelly. 

Step #4: Perfect your elevator pitch. 

What makes a UX bootcamp graduate stand out from the crowd? During the interview process, your interviewer is more than likely going to ask you, “what can you bring to the team and company,” “why do you think you possess the right skills for this job” etc. It’s crucial to practice your pitch for these questions, whether that involves practicing in front of a mirror, or with your family or friends. 

It’s critical to “take any opportunity to explain why you are passionate about UX design and how your past experiences, such as your previous work experience, can combine to be a great asset to that company,” explained Kelly. 

Step #5: Take advantage of your resources. 

Last but not least are your resources. During your time at the UX bootcamp you will come across many resources. Some of these resources will be people, like your instructors, career couches, cohorts, the UX community you build connections with, etc. 

When looking for that first job, these resources are invaluable. As an aspiring UX designer, remember to take advantage of online resources like the Nielson Norman Group, Smashing Magazine, UXPin, Usability Geek, and UXDesign.cc.